Peter Pan


J.M. Barrie

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Peter Pan: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

The next day, Peter measures Michael, John, and Wendy and makes tree holes to fit their figures. The underground home is one large room. There is a tree growing in the middle that serves as a table, though it has to be cut to size every day; there is also a fireplace, a bed, and a little hole in the wall for Tinker Bell, which is very beautifully decorated. Wendy works hard cooking the boys’ meals, though these are sometimes only make-believe meals - as Peter wishes. Wendy also spends a lot of time fixing the boys’ clothes. She complains about all the work, but she takes a lot of pleasure in it. In her imaginary Neverland she had a pet wolf, but in the real Neverland she has a real one, and he keeps her company.
Make-believe food on an island of make-believe is not so different from real food on a real planet. At least it is not different for Peter, who is almost entirely make-believe himself. Perhaps make-believe on an island of make-believe is just a step down into the depths of make-believe: perhaps levels of make-believe continue infinitely there, a Neverland at each step. Peter, then, might travel easily between them. It would explain his seemingly endless adventures, his forgetfulness, and his strange sense of time.
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Wendy does not think too much about her parents, because she is sure they will always keep the window open for her and her brothers if they decide to return. But she is worried that John and Michael seem to be forgetting them, so she gives the boys quizzes on their old home to try to stir their memories. All the boys take the quizzes except for Peter, who can’t read or write.
The lesson here is that parents always remember children, and that children always forget them. All that parents give, children take away. The selflessness of parents is just proportionate to the selfishness of children.
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For a little while, Peter becomes very absorbed in a new game. It “consisted in pretending not to have adventures,” and in doing ordinary everyday things that all children do, like going on walks or just sitting around. All the while, though, he sometimes leaves to go on mysterious, violent adventures. He often does not remember them, though, and he sometimes makes up adventures that did not really happen. The narrator wants to describe one, but he is not sure which to choose, and begins to list several.
Peter enjoys pretending to be an ordinary child, perhaps because he feels the real adventure of being a child with parents and a home is forbidden to him. The question is: does he need Wendy to help him with the game of ordinariness, or does he need her in some simpler way? And is there truly a difference between the two? The game of ordinariness is tinged with real longing.
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Once, in the middle of a battle with the tribe, the boys all decide to be indians, and the indians all decide to be boys. After switching sides, they continue the battle. There is also the story of Wendy and the cake: Wendy never lets the boys eat the overly rich cake, no matter how many times the pirates tempt them with it, and finally it just gets hard and old. There is also the story in which a Never bird saves Peter Pan from drowning in the lagoon, or the story of Tink’s attempt to get rid of Wendy, or Peter’s attempt to battle with some disinterested lions. The narrator tosses a coin to choose among them, and begins to tell the story of the Never bird and the lagoon.
The first story in the list shows us very clearly that a very large share of the violence that takes place on the island is free of hatred. It is fighting for fighting’s sake, an extreme version of the many gallant violent arts (like boxing and other combat sports). A similar lesson may be derived from the story of Peter and the lions. The story is a direct reference to a chapter in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, in which Quixote challenges two sated and lazy lions who refuse to fight.
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